The Refined Man

The Refined Man Is Abandoned

04.21.15

Last Fall I met Tim + his now fiancé Jenn at Hillsong Conference in Manhattan.  Beyonce and Jay-Z better watch out because these two are a counter cultural power couple if I ever met one.  If you’ve spent any amount of time with Tim you know this about him:  he loves God, he loves people, and he is a man of integrity and honor.  (Also he has incredible style…I mean state the obvious right?).

I’m honored to have Tim + Jenn in my life, and so pumped to have Tim on The Refined Man on the day his book Abandon launches.  Y’all it’s awesome.  Go. Get. It.

XO,

Kat

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Photos c/o Kat Harris

Normally when we hear the word abandon or abandoned, our first thought is usually a negative connotation—such as giving up, settling, forgoing responsibility, forgetting something, or leaving something behind.

Today I am asking you to throw out the negative images that come from the word abandon, and instead realize that the act of abandonment can actually bring you closer to God and closer to becoming The Refined Man God intended for you to be.

What would happen if we laid aside, or better yet, abandoned our need to compare ourselves to others?

Today we live in a world that loves to make comparisons.  Our society is consumed by it, because it’s a big business.  Take for instance these themes from some of the most popular shows on television: Who looked the best? or How to dress like your favorite celebrity. Magazine stands across the country are filled with articles dedicated to making comparisons and reminding you that you should do more so you can live and look like the person you admire.  (Who by the way has probably been photoshopped so much you would hardly recognize them if you saw them in person).

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As a Man, heck even for women this type of thinking can be very dangerous to our growth.  One of the scriptures I keep in front of me on a daily basis says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise”. (2 Corinthians 10:12)

If we always compare, we will never be content and thankful. Accept yourself for who you are:  strengths and weaknesses alike. Knowing who you are in God is vital to your development as a “refined man”.  The abandoned man stop’s comparing his possessions, appearance, performance, and circumstances to other people’s lives, and lives the way God intended for him to live:  Content.

Culture teaches us that we need more to be happy, but I believe true joy and happiness comes from being content. Which simply means I’m satisfied with what I have while I’m grinding to get what I want.  Does it mean I have everything I need at the moment…. No.  But what it does mean, is that I’m thankful for the things I do have, and that it does me no good to compare my apples to someone else’s oranges…

For a moment I want you to reflect on the comparisons you most often make…. Whether it’s the clothes you wear, or the car you drive, and understand that those things will not propel you forward.  Make up in your mind that you are not going to let who you were, better yet, who you are, talk you out of who you’re becoming… TimTimberlake.Abandon-3 If I could some all of this up into two things it would be that the abandoned man is:

1) THANKFUL FOR BEING DIFFERENT.

The next time you find yourself making comparisons, remind yourself that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Let that sink in. You are one of a kind.

And….

2) SEEK APPROVAL FROM GOD, NOT MAN.

Remind yourself often of all that you are in God and discover the freedom that comes without comparisons.

Peace,

Tim Timberlake

Inspiration / News

Then I Did Something I Never Thought I’d Do…

04.17.15

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Photos c/o Jessica Burke + Kat Harris | See Full Article on Redeemed Girls Blog

By now I thought I would be married and living in Dallas Texas with a few kids and a mortgage. I thought I’d be volunteering at a church doing women’s ministry on the side. I thought it was a good plan.
But here I sit here on an overcast Friday morning in April single, in my grey yoga pants, typing away on my laptop in my Brooklyn apartment. The life I expected to be living was a good one. Yet here I am. Never did I ever think I’d be living in New York City as a full-time photographer and running my own women’s lifestyle and fashion blog. If I have learned anything about God it’s this: His plans for our lives are far more creative and imaginative than anything we could think up on our own.
How did I go from being a Bible Major at Dallas Baptist University to a woman in the fashion industry of New York City? Great question.
For two and a half years in college I played on a full ride tennis scholarship as a fashion major. But I finally got to a point where I was completely burnt out and my identity was wrapped up in who I was as an athlete. My whole life revolved around tennis for as long as I could remember. It was what I was known for; it was what I was good at. But I began to wonder who I was without the titles and accolades. When I walked away from tennis it was both liberating and terrifying. I transferred to a small baptist university in Dallas and declared a new major: Biblical Studies. I was one of the only women in my major, and man did I ruffle some feathers. I was ready to be the next Beth Moore. I inhaled my textbooks like they were oxygen. I sat on the front row of all my classes rapidly taking notes, and asking questions every thirty seconds.
Throughout my time at DBU my passion to invest into the lives of women grew. I led small groups, worked as a camp counselor in the summer, and mentored high school girls. And then another thing happened. My last year I college I realized that I replaced my identity as a tennis player as a leader in the church. I loved leading, teaching, speaking to girls. But it became an identity for me. My last semester of college was the first time since I had become a Christian 6 years earlier that I wasn’t involved in leadership at my church.
When I graduated college I accepted an internship in San Diego to work for a non-profit doing advocacy for a war-torn Northernw Uganda. I moved into a house with 50 other interns from all over the US. We traveled in vans with each other to share stories of child soldiers. We made less than $10 a day, slept on dorm room floors, our vans and even in fields. But it was some of the best memories of my life. I learned that our lives are our mission field. You don’t have to be on staff at a church to be doing ministry. That was incredibly powerful for me to experience. I also learned that we’re all creative beings. The first thing God does in Genesis is create. Since we are created in His image each of us to our core are pulsating with creativity. It’s just tapping into what is my vehicle of creativity, and then using it for His glory and purposes.
This rocked me because I never felt like I was a creative person. My whole life I was an athlete. Then I became Katherine the Christian. Realizing that I was also a creative turned my world from black and white to endless color. After my internship was over I made a commitment to myself and to God that I would start pursuing things that I never pursued out of fear of failure, or simply because I thought I wasn’t creative.
I was living in Newport Beach California taking vocal lessons, hip hop dance classes, and began to fall in love with photography. I had always loved photography, but never did anything about it. Somehow (God’s grace and favor in my life) I landed a full-time job with Mike Colón, one of the top wedding photographers in the nation. I could hardly turn on a camera let alone tell you anything technical or photography related. But I’m stubborn and a hard worker, and knew I’d never know if I was good at it if I didn’t give it a try. Mike saw something in me, and took a chance. Working for him opened up this whole new world to me. From editing to running a business, to shooting manual, to posing, to taking chances he taught me everything I know. He brought me to all his weddings, to shoot New York Bridal Market, and I got to sit in and produce all of his workshops. What I found over my almost 4 years of working for Mike was that I not only loved photography, but I was pretty good at it.
Even though I never had the desire to run my own business I couldn’t get past the nagging sense that I was supposed to. In May of 2012 I left a stable paycheck and a wonderful family to start my own business.
I’ll never forget being flown to New York to shoot my first big editorial campaign. At the end of a long day of shooting my model quietly came up to me and said “No photographer has ever treated me so kindly”. It stopped me in my tracks.

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Next fall I was shooting New York Fashion Week and after editing through thousands of runway images I felt this nudge inside to start a fashion blog for women. It was the last thing I wanted to do. The last thing the world needs is another fashion blog. But it made me crazy that everything we see in magazines are women half my size, completely photoshopped and wearing clothes that I could never afford.
I started to dream. What if there was something out there for real women? A space that said yes fashion is fun but it’s not who I am? A place where we started being honest about our fears, insecurities, hopes and dreams? What if instead of comparing ourselves to each other and tearing one another down, we linked arms and impacted the world together? So in January 2013 I did something that I never thought I’d do. With my friend Emily I started The Refined Woman.

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Then in the summer of 2013 I did another thing that I never thought I would do: I moved to New York City. Are you starting to see a theme here in my life? In between layovers, blog posts, editing, client meetings, picking up gear, tearing down sets, shooting weddings, interviewing women something started to become very clear to me: my heart to invest into the lives of women never changed. The vehicles for it just did.
Now it’s April of 2015 and I feel as though my life is coming full circle. My love for Jesus and my love for women is intersecting through what I do. I don’t work at a church and probably won’t ever (but who knows…my life has been full of saying yes to things I never thought I would do), but I believe what I do is my ministry. For some reason God keeps blessing The Refined Woman and expanding our platform. I’m honored that I get to be apart of a conversation to women that says ‘You matter because of whose you are’.

I believe God wants to redeem all things, and that includes the fashion industry. I believe that our culture is begging for a deeper sense of purpose. With a thousand messages being given to us each day screaming that you’re not enough, you’re too much, saving sex for marriage is a thing of the past, you are your own destiny, I invite you to stand with me offering our world and our women a different option. The option that there is hope, value, identity, worth and power in Jesus. He has a plan for our lives, and it may…no it will look different than what we think. But I can attest that it is far greater than any journey we’d go at alone.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know this: God has me here in New York City in the fashion and photography world for such a time as this. While my vehicle may change over time, my vision will remain the same: Love God. Love people.
XO,
Kat

Inspiration / Motherhood

begin | my birth story part 1

04.07.15

I’ve told the story of Charlotte’s birth more times than I can count in the past year. But when it comes to writing it down, I always just stare at the blank page or screen and struggle to just begin.

Maybe this is because I know that once I start, I will have to finish it. I will have to wrap up my feelings about it in a nice little package for you and move on.

The reality is that this past year my heart has been messy. It’s all over the place. Every time I am able to share Charlotte’s birth story with a new friend I feel different things and find new thoughts about the experience. It’s hard for me to sum anything up right now, even one year later.

I will say that I felt the strongest I have ever felt in my life. Birth is the only kind of pain I’ve known that feels productive and good (surprisingly, I don’t enjoy working out, but people tell me that is a good pain too… I’m not sold on the idea.)

I guess the only thing left to do at this point is begin.

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photo by elizabeth messina

THE LEAD UP

The weekend before I went into labor we were dying to see “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” but we had promised to wait and see it with our best friends. I joked that we better see it Monday night JUST IN CASE I had the baby. I was only 38 weeks and everyone had convinced me that as a first-time mom, my girl wouldn’t be arriving until at least 41 weeks. But we went to the movies on that Monday night anyways because we really wanted to see it and we thought we should see as many movies as we could before a newborn arrived on the scene.

The whole time we were in the theatre watching I kept feeling an uncomfortable tightening off and on. I fidgeted and squirmed in my seat the whole time. But I was convinced that if it WAS pre-labor contractions, I would be one of those women doomed to have them for the next two weeks, so I mentally settled in to wait it out.

That night, I woke up every hour? few hours? with a tight, brief contraction. But thankfully since I was mentally ready to wait these out I managed to go back to sleep every time.

The next morning, the same contractions were coming infrequently. I casually texted my mom and my doula that I was having some contractions, just in case, but also trying to be breezy. I’m BREEZY, guys. (You can’t say you’re breezy.)

A dear friend of mine texted me around 10am telling me she had some bad news. She didn’t want to upset me and make me go into labor, she joked. I don’t remember if I told her it was potentially too late for that but I did tell her to come over anyways so we could talk.

I walked the dog and texted her back. The only shoes that fit my swollen feet at that point were my sheepskin slippers and I was wearing some stretched out elastic sweatpants and I thought to myself, I wouldn’t be that mad if this baby did come soon.

I couldn’t know how soon she really would.

My friend arrived around 1pm and we had a long chat in my living room about our upcoming trip to Bali (oh, you know, just 10-12 weeks post baby. If you didn’t know by now, I’m completely insane sometimes)…and how she wouldn’t be able to join us to help me shoot the wedding I was scheduled to shoot there.

Normally this might have upset me but I was in this weird, peaceful fog. There’s no other explanation except for that it was supernatural. I just knew that I had a bigger task ahead of me, you know, in a general sense.

As we finished talking we moved into the nursery and she helped me rearrange some of the furniture in there, and it quickly became clear that my contractions were the real deal. I think my friend’s exact words were – “I think these are the REAL THING. You better time them.”

So as I laid on the twin bed in the nursery laying down between deep breaths I downloaded the app for that. And I started timing.

Around 4pm, my contractions were about 7 minutes apart.

As I said goodbye to my friend that afternoon, I texted Aaron and told him I was probably actually in labor. And that he better not work too late tonight…

(To be continued…)

xo,
Em